Friday, November 19, 2010

NYT Friday 11/19/10 Victor Fleming - Colonial Stinger

This Friday New York Times crossword seemed fairly difficult to me and I had to work a while before I got a decent start. My normal routine with a themeless is to make several complete passes through all the clues, putting in the gimme answers and the occasional hunch, until a cluster of answers starts to build up in a given area.

This time that process took around ten minutes and the corner I cracked first was the smallish one at the upper right. I couldn't extend out of there, but managed to get going again at the lower left, where all three of the eight-letter downs fell one after the other once I'd put in Dr. No and that awful iter.

From here I mopped up the lower middle and then found Pyrrhic victory helped finish off the upper left corner with 20 minutes on the clock.

fire ant nestThat just left the upper middle and lower right sections to do. The latter was tough because of just one tricky conjunction: red deer at 39-Across and 42-Down's Ron Ely. When I finally nailed that crossing square, I kicked myself for not seeing through the deceptive plural in {Relatives of 20-Across} and not parsing the down as a (3,3) given I had met the Tarzan-actor-turned-Miss-America-host before.

The upper middle was tough all over, and I was thankful for having met oboli in British cryptics a fair amount. Otherwise, every answer in that section was either obscure to me or obscurely clued (mostly the latter) and I think it was fire ant that finally broke the area open.

I can forgive these aspects of the puzzle, but I deplore the reappearance of iter (50-Across) after it was put On Notice!; there are only two answers on notice right now, so I'm not asking for much. I'm hovering over uvea, which has been oft-seen lately, but it's a whole lot better known than iter, which is really beyond the pale anatomy-wise.
Solving time: 31 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1d stalag {Compound used in wartime}

Victor Fleming
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersVictor Fleming / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 35 (15.6%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.59)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points272 (average 1.43)
Video of the Day

38a ate cake {Did as suggested in a Gershwin musical?}. Let 'Em Eat Cake is a Broadway musical that opened October 21, 1933 at the Imperial Theatre, New York, and ran for 89 performances. It had music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. The cast included William Gaxton, Victor Moore, Philip Loeb, and Lois Moran.

Although it was the sequel to Of Thee I Sing, and had the same producer, writers, and stars, the tone of Let 'Em Eat Cake was much darker and the issues more complex - Wintergreen is defeated for reelection, and he and Throttlebottom form an incipient Fascist movement to take over the government.

The show carried a message that audiences did not want to hear and it was a failure. However, it did have one outstanding song: Mine (played above). Several musical themes from Of Thee I Sing are reused in Let 'Em Eat Cake, including the Supreme Court Judges' song and the campaign song "Wintergreen for President", which includes parts of folk and patriotic songs such as Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever", and "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here."

The Doctor is IN

1a stops {Locals make them often}. Locals = local trains has caught me out a couple of times recently, so it goes into Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords today.

10a nol. {___ pros. (court record abbr.)}. nol. pros. = nolle prosequi.

19a Lear's {1980s-'90s women's magazine}. Lear's Magazine was "For The Woman Who Wasn't Born Yesterday".

22a Asch {"Moses" novelist}. I.e. Sholem Asch (1880-1957), coincidentally (?) the father of Moses "Moe" Asch.

23a dais {Setting for a roaster}. "roaster" in the sense of a tribute-giver at a roast.

49a Turin {Locale shrouded in mystery?}. Punning reference to the Turin Shroud.

50a iter {Bodily channel}. Boo to this answer, as iter has been On Notice! for a while. The best knownleast obscure iter is the aqueduct of silvius connecting the third and fourth ventricles in the brain.

54a lima {Succotash bit}. Succotash typically includes lima beans.

2d Talese {"A Writer's Life" autobiographer, 2006}. I.e. Gay Talese.

7d oboli {Old Greek coins}. obolus n (pl oboli) an obol; in the Middle Ages applied to various small coins, such as the English halfpenny [The Chambers Dictionary].

Image of the Day

Maryland: state flag and state flower, the black-eyed Susan

15d Black-eyed Susan {A state symbol of Maryland}. Rudbeckia hirta, the Black-eyed Susan, with the other common names of: Brown-eyed Susan, Blackiehead, Brown Betty, Brown Daisy (Rudbeckia triloba), Gloriosa Daisy, Golden Jerusalem, Poorland Daisy, Yellow Daisy, and Yellow Ox-eye Daisy. It is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is an upright annual (sometimes biennial or perennial) native to most of North America, and is one of a number of plants with the common name Black-eyed Susan with flowers having dark purplish brown centers. The Black-eyed Susan was designated the state flower of Maryland in 1918.

Other Clues

6a foto {Pic}; 13a Tanya {Actress Roberts}; 14a I-bar {Bridge unit}; 15a Bebe {Nixon pal Rebozo}; 16a alert {It's high when it's red}; 17a role {Stage part}; 18a lost {At sea}; 20a elks {Rockies rangers}; 21a años {Períodos de 52 semanas}; 24a scalp {Massage locale}; 25a get it on {Start a scrap}; 27a took tea {Enjoyed a British tradition}; 29a Chet {Lemon on a baseball field}; 30a outeats {Tops at the dinner table?}; 31a stoves {Heat sources}; 34a styles {Barbers}; 35a capitol {Legislation station?}; 37a a tee {Done to ___}; 39a red deer {Relatives of 20-Across}; 43a lents {Spring times}; 44a aper {One who might have an original imitation}; 46a sumo {Heavyweights face off in it}; 47a Dr. No {Crab Key villain of book and film}; 48a uvea {Ciliary body setting}; 51a germ {Basis}; 52a as one {Joined}; 53a nosy {Digging for dirt?}; 55a lapel {Place for a small flag}; 56a GTs {Some racecars}; 57a insp. {Police dept. figure}; 58a enemy {Ones being shot at}.

1d stalag {Compound used in wartime}; 3d one-act {Like Sartre's "No Exit"}; 4d Pyrrhic victory {Win offset by losses}; 5d SATs {Their scores may be on transcripts}; 6d fire ant {Colonial stinger}; 8d talks to {Gets on the phone, say}; 9d ores {They're often lying in beds}; 10d neonatal {Kind of ward}; 11d obsolete {Superseded}; 12d lets pass {Doesn't challenge}; 23d does OK {Neither nails it nor blows it}; 24d sotted {In one's cups}; 26d thetas {Trig symbols}; 28d ouster {Dispossession}; 31d scalding {Very hot}; 32d tater tot {Deep-fried mouthful}; 33d openness {Transparency}; 36d leave in {Not excise}; 37d area map {Tour guide?}; 40d Europe {Grand tour setting}; 41d Eminem {2009 Grammy winner for "Relapse"}; 42d Ron Ely {Miss America host after Bert Parks}; 45d perms {Salon jobs}; 48d ugli {Aptly named hybrid}; 49d tale {Something to weave}.

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